Angel Juarbe won $250,000 and a new truck on the Fox TV show Murder in Small Town X on September 4th, 2001. One week after his winning show had been broadcast, Juarbe, a NYC firefighter, died in the first tower collapse on 9/11. Whether or not he was “famous” might be up to debate, but he did just win about $300k in prizes on a national TV show the week before.
I always thought the sheer impact and scale of 9/11 overwhelmed Juarbe’s death, and a lesser catastrophe might have made him more famous. For example, had he died rescuing an old lady in a fire one week after winning the game (and 9/11 didn’t happen, of course), Fox News would have made him a National Hero complete with screeching eagles and waving flags (Juarbe was, after all, Fox “property”, courtesy of the show).